Winter’s in the air, but it can be autumn on the table

Published 12:00am Saturday, December 3, 2011

A few years ago I bought a cookbook, The Cook and the Gardener. The recipes are arranged seasonally and were originally done in a chateau in Burgundy where the author, Amanda Hesser, was cooking for Anne Willan, a cookbook author and owner of Ecole de Cusine La Varenne. So many recipes mix ingredients from different seasons. These recipes are of the season.

One late fall recipe (although this week’s temperatures seem more like winter) called for mustard greens, and I have lots of them in our fall garden. Amanda suggested paring it with pork with red wine, orange peel and apple-thyme chutney. It is “hog killing time” as well, although I am not personally killing any. Neighbors are shooting wild boar, however. We have oranges in the garden as well; apples as you know do not do well here in the deep South, but they are in the stores as they are now seasonal in slightly cooler climes.

Wilted Mustard Greens with Shallots and Sherry Vinegar

Serves 4

¼ cup olive oil

2 pounds mustard greens, stems removed and washed

Coarse or kosher salt

3 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped

3 shallot lobes, chopped fine

1/3 cup sherry vinegar

Cook the greens in three batches. Heat the wok over medium-high heat. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil around the sides of the wok so it spreads to the base of the wok. Add a third of the greens in handfuls, tossing with a large fork or tongs so they wilt. They will darken to a glossy, forest-green color. Season with salt and pepper and add a third of the garlic and shallot, tossing to mix evenly, for one to two minutes. (This prevents the greens from clumping while the garlic and shallot soften.) Add 1 tablespoon of the vinegar and cook off all the liquid, about a minute. Transfer to a serving dish.

Repeat for the next two batches. Season to taste, adding more salt and the remaining vinegar to taste. Using a large fork, fluff up the greens before serving. Leftovers, rare as they are, make for a good addition to a quiche or omelet. Squeeze the greens in your fists before using to remove any excess liquid.

 

Pork with Red Wine, Orange Peel, and Apple-Thyme Chutney

Serves 4-6

2 ½ pounds pork loin

Freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil

Marinade

1 strip orange peel

8 sprigs thyme

2 bay leaves

1 carrot, trimmed, peeled, and cut into 1-inch dice

2 onions, roughly chopped

1 bottle full-bodied red wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon

Apple-Thyme Chutney

3 Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1-inch cubes

3 sprigs thyme

1 bay leaf

¼ cup sugar

2 tablespoons Calvados or apple brandy

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

Coarse or kosher salt

Marinate the pork: Tie up the pork with kitchen twine. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. In a shallow dish large enough to fit the pork, spread the orange peel, thyme, bay leaves, carrot and onion over the base. Lay the pork on top and pour over the wine. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and marinate in the refrigerator for eight to 12 hours, turning the pork from time to time.

Sometime while the pork marinates, make the chutney: In a small, heavy-based saucepan, combine the apple, thyme, bay leaf, sugar, Calvados, and apple cider vinegar. Simmer over low heat with the lid set slightly askew, stirring occasionally, for an hour to an hour and a half. Toward the end, the chutney will begin sticking easily to the pan. Stir often, so it doesn’t burn. The apples should have collapsed, and the chutney should become thick as the liquids evaporate. It should be delicately sweet, with a sharp edge provided by the vinegar. Season to taste, adding a pinch of salt if desired. Discard the thyme stems, and leave the chutney in the pan until needed. The chutney can be made up to three days ahead, stored in the refrigerator, and rewarmed before serving.

Heat the oven to 450 degrees.

Remove the pork from the marinade, reserving the marinade. Season the pork with salt and again with pepper. Spread the oil in the base of a heavy roasting pan large enough to fit the pork without too much spare room. Lay the pork on top and roast it for 15 minutes, turning the pork often to color it well on all sides. Pour in 1 cup of the marinade, reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees, and continue roasting for another 35 to 45 minutes. Baste the roast often, adding more marinade if necessary.

When a skewer inserted in the center of the roast 30 seconds is hot to the touch, or an instant-read thermometer registers 150 degrees, the pork is almost done. Remove the roasting pan from the oven, lift the pork to a cutting board (where it will continue cooking to its done temperature of 160 degrees), and let it rest, covered with aluminum foil, for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, reheat the apple chutney and make a jus: Add 1-2 tablespoons of water to the chutney and warm over medium heat, stirring often to disperse the heat, for five to seven minutes. The chutney should be warm to the touch but not piping hot; apples hold heat well. Pile into a small bowl. You can leave the bay leaf in for color, but warn people not to eat it. For the jus, pour off all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the roasting pan. Then pour the remaining marinade into the roasting pan and place over high heat, stirring with a wooden spoon to scrape up any pan drippings. Reduce to a condensed jus, about ½-cup. Taste and adjust seasoning. Strain into a small bowl.

Carve the pork into ¼ -inch slices and arrange them on a shallow serving platter. Pour over any juices that have accumulated on the cutting board. Serve, passing the jus and warm chutney separately. This dish is also great served cold, without the jus, for lunch.

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